The Green Corner

Veg in a Box food truck brings its vegan offerings to downtown eaters at Veg in a Box Café.

March 7, 2016

GleaningsIssue 17: March/April 2016

With its bright green sign, Veg in a Box Café stands out on a quiet corner of Tucson’s crisscrossed downtown streets. Monday through Saturday, the food-truck-turned-café dishes out vegan cuisine to the city’s veggie-lovers.

The café emerged from the Veg in a Box food truck, which Eric Korchmaros, a Le Cordon Bleu -trained chef turned vegan enthusiast, opened in 2014. Korchmaros began eating vegan to improve his personal health, and delved more deeply into the cuisine as he learned about where his food came from and the health perks of eating greens.

With the Box’s local following of fresh food fans, Korchmaros seized the opportunity to expand to a brick-and-mortar store. On July 1, 2015, he and co-owner Matt Price opened the Veg in a Box Café on Pennington Street, next door to fellow-vegan restaurant Urban Fresh.

While it’s easy to assume the two businesses are automatic competitors, Price said that Veg in a Box Café and Urban Fresh are quite complementary. “Urban Fresh does breakfast and lunch, and we do lunch and dinner. They do more smoothies and lighter fare. We do the burgers, veg balls, and fries.”

Veg Box Café co-owner Matt Price (right) proudly stands watch (and juggles beets) with his cook, Raul Tirado, in front of the brick-and-mortar café.

Veg Box Café co-owner Matt Price (right) proudly stands watch (and juggles beets) with his cook, Raul Tirado, in front of the brick-and-mortar café.

Korchmaros and Price have plans for their hidden corner of downtown. Price is working with Tucson City Council Member Steve Kozachik to develop and implement enhancement plans for Pennington Street. A first improvement will be more parking for bicycles in front of the café.

“We want to revitalize this street, bring it to the level it deserves to be. We want to turn this into the ‘green corner’ of downtown,” Price said. “To do that, we need the support of the folk in this area.”

And not just the vegan crowd, he added: Veg in a Box Café boasts its cuisine to even the most carnivorous.

Price recommends that meat-lovers try the café’s hearty Italian veg ball sub with Pomodora tomato-almond sauce. “It will fill you up,” he said, “and wow, it’s amazing!”

Price tried a vegan diet as a personal experiment after hearing from people who found that, for them, more veggies meant more vigor. “I figured I’d do it for a month,” he said. “And I never quit.”

Now, Price eats vegan for a variety of reasons, from a love of animals and the environment to improving his own health. “It’s easy for me to be vegan,” he said. “It just feels right.”

And while the food truck took a break as the café got going, the Veg in a Box truck is back in action. You can find it parked at the southwest corner of First Avenue and Limberlost Drive Wednesday through Saturday and at the Heirloom Farmers’ Market at Rillito Park on Sundays—unless it’s called to cater for a special event.

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